Democracy on a global level - feasible or utopian? Cosmopolitan Democracy vs. Deliberative Democracy?

Term Paper, 2006

19 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Cosmopolitan Democracy
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The „principle of autonomy“
2.3 Democratic public law

3 Deliberative Democracy
3.1 Deliberation
3.2 Public Spheres

4 Cosmopolitan Democracy vs. Deliberative Democracy?
4.1 Mode of legitimacy - Input/output.
4.2 Principle of differentiation - functional/sectoral
4.3 Political Style - Horizontal/Hierarchical

5 Final Comparison and Evaluation

6 List of literature

1 Introduction

Democracy as a principle has become the universal global concept for political systems. One can observe an at least formal adaptation of democratic structures around the globe. Through an increasing complexity international relations change faster and are harder to overview.

In this context the impact of economic globalization is an omnipresent phenomenon in the public sphere. Globalization can be analysed with the help of different theories: Some come to the conclusion that it is a positive development for most people; others point out strong negative consequences. In turn some argue it is a completely new phenomenon, some say it is an old phenomenon existing for centuries. Others proclaim the inevitableness or the concrete designability of globalization. (cp. Schaeffer 2003: 1)

In this written homework I will use the term “globalization” to “describe the growth and spread in investment, trade, and production, the introduction of new technology, and the spread of democracy around the world”. (ibid. 2003: 1). It has to be noticed that this economic globalization “would affect not only production, finance, technology, media and fashion, but also the international political system, leading also to a globalization of democracy“ (Archibugi 2004: 438) Here it is important to note, that on the one hand I support the claim that the ideas of democracy are globalized, on the other hand , however, there has to be kept in mind, the constraint that democracy is only global as a formal or structural blueprint. The flexible characteristics and focuses of democracy differ in many ways; therefore it is not possible to state that an all-embracing final democratic model exists.

According to Pauly the impact of globalization shortens national capacities so that they become “inefficient regulators of markets that cross their borders, ..” (Pauly 2000: 4) This raises questions about the democratic legitimacy of an increasingly internationally operating government and international institutions with an indefinite and not clearly defined designation of legitimacy caused by a weak democratic proportion on a global level.

Additionally one can observe a rapidly growing number of non-state actors and rising influence like TNCs and NGOs. Approaches concerning the processing of these topics are described under the wide field of “global governance”.

To regain political power and create security, states try to cooperate through international institutions, bi- and multilateral agreements or regional economic federations.

How can we create a model of democratic governance with convincing arguments concerning questions about accountability, democratic leaks, transparency and areas of responsibility? Transparency means the provision of a comparable data of a public good to the citizens so that they are able to value processes and structures. This is only one problem of global governance. Contrariwise accountability means that regulators and decision-makers have to be taken responsible by the affected people. (cp. Cable 1999: 103 ff.)

The theoretical discussion and their discourse offer help to take a look on today’s institutions and their problems, the role of the state and the possible implementation approaches of theoretical ideas towards a democratic form of global governance. One solution, obviously, would be a transfer of states´ sovereignty to a regional or global level.

I will concentrate on the confrontation of two basic models of democracy beyond the nation- state, the Cosmopolitan Democracy and the Deliberative Democracy. Based on different nor- mative assumptions they have different ideas of how to create a more adequate form of gov- ernance. I will present both concepts separately followed by an all-embracing valuation and a conclusion.

2 Cosmopolitan Democracy

2.1 Introduction

Cosmopolitan Democracy, comprehensively outlined by David Held, means a concept how to implement a democratic society within, among and beyond states. (Cp. Archibugi 2004: 438) It is „a political project for a different world order. “ (Archibugi 1998: 199)

Cosmopolitan democracy as a concept goes far beyond usual understandings of the similar sounding transnational democracy because it includes a multilevel view of global processes, i.e. it accumulates the complexity of global interactions. The regulative power of states is declining, borders blur. For Held the core of these developments is the “reconfiguration of political power”, which concern the changing forms of international regulation (cp. Held 2005: 242-243)

Cosmopolitanism, according to Held, relates to values, which should apply to all agents in the international system. It includes principles and rules which go beyond the horizon of a bounded nation-state. (Cp. Held 2005: 264) Assuming that democracy is a developing proc- ess, it is put into a historical context, accentuating its changing character and its fallibility.

After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 the development of democracy kept on towards the „highest form“ of liberal democracy. The core is the “principle of autonomy”, which is also the key-term of Held`s concept.

Liberal democracy goes away from the classic democratic ideas of Rousseau and Locke, who preferred majority decisions, towards a liberal understanding of democracy which increasingly focuses on the individual will of self-determination. Newman states that “liberal democracy is counter-majoritarian insofar as it places the individual’s interest in autonomy above the will of the majority …” (Newman 2000: 24) At first sight this leads towards a dictatorship. Limits to this concept thus have to be set by a certain way of rule or law.

But what is Held´s understanding of a global democracy and how does he arrange his argumentation? The following chapters will give answers.

2.2 The „principle of autonomy“

The principle of autonomy, a liberal commitment, is based on individuals, all being free to self-realization within the constraint that they do not harm anyone. (Cp. Newman 2000: 25). Autonomy in this case refers to the possibility of peoples to self-determination. They are seen as free and equal members of the society who are free to choose their conditions of associations and the form of political system they want to live in.

This principle, Held says, is the basis of the modern constitutional state. So, consequently, ex- isting polities are always a “mirror” of a certain community and can be hold accountable. Self-determination thus somehow is a “constraint” to communities and their polities. The law as a neutral basis for behaviour is necessary to get legitimacy of the polity. Here, the public governing power is the „common structure of political action“, the structural complex in which agents are able to act. It secures rights of peoples and enables them to act.

Additionally this concept shows the framework in which individuals act and communicate from a macro perspective. (Cp. Held 1995: 143 et seqq.) Agents have „autonomy within the constraints of community“ (ibid. 1995: 156)

2.3 Democratic public law

Held states that before a democratic good like the public law can be created, it has to be en- sured that it preserves the “seven clusters of rights“ which are the basic requirements for po- litical participation: “health, social, cultural, civic, economic, pacific and political rights.” (ibid. 1995: 191)

A democratic public law within nation-states defines the common structure of action saving peoples rights. It is “a legal structure, moreover, which recognized citizens in their capacity of citizens in and across the seven domains of power justifiably be regarded as democratic public law.” (ibid. 1995: 200)

This “foundation of autonomy” (ibid. 1995: 222) is absolutely necessary for democratic adjustment of a state. But now, as mentioned in the introduction, democratic states act more and more on a global level by economic agreements with other states or though international organization. Additionally states are confronted with a diverse mixture of influences concerning ideas which influence democratic public law as well.

For Held, national communities “have been shaped by multiple interaction networks over time. “ (ibid. 1995: 225) So an isolated state does not and did not exist. Thus democratic pub- lic law both within and between political communities has to be created: The “cosmopolitan democratic law” transcends national borders and is based on the principle of autonomy to everyone in a “cosmopolitan democratic community.” Held talks about „cosmopolitan democratic law“ (ibid. 1995: 226 et seqq.).

The democratic public law is bound to a territory, e.g. by a constitution, and is thereby not copyable to a global level. Nevertheless political communities were able to implement various institutions and rights on a global level. Examples like the universal declaration of human rights, institutions like NAFTA, EU, UN ASEAN and the AU show efforts to enforce universal values and somehow transform them to a global level.

A decision to join a cosmopolitan community has to be voluntary. Otherwise the principle of autonomy would be contradicted. Bit by bit political communities would join a cosmopolitan community.

Held does not propose to create a world-government nor does he predict the decline of the nation-state. His system explicitly includes nation-states bounded to cosmopolitan democratic law. Nation-states are “relocated” and set into an appropriate context with other forms of power. The created status would be a „…binding framework for the political business of states, societies and regions.”(ibid. 1995: 233)

Held states that a “double-democratization” is definitely needed to implement global democracy. ”Double-democratization" means the implementation of the principle of autonomy on both nation-states and civil society. (Cp. Held 1987: 283)

Therefore it is necessary to create institutions to implement cosmopolitan democratic law and take over regulating functions. These institutions would have to be legitimated; this can be organized by nation-states. The result would be a “system of diverse and overlapping power centres, shaped and delimited by democratic law. “ (Held 1995: 234-235)

In such a system a constitution or a bill of rights is needed as well as equal rights, conditions to effective participation, enlightened understanding and the “setting of the political agenda.” (Cp. Held 1987: 285)

The states, still central agents, work within overlapping democratic levels with different char- Page 5


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Democracy on a global level - feasible or utopian? Cosmopolitan Democracy vs. Deliberative Democracy?
Bielefeld University
Global Governanance by Global Frameworks
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Democracy, Cosmopolitan, Democracy, Deliberative, Democracy, Global, Governanance, Global, Frameworks
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Thilo Schneider (Author), 2006, Democracy on a global level - feasible or utopian? Cosmopolitan Democracy vs. Deliberative Democracy?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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